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Review: Music

Hamilton Loomis

Hamilton Loomis

Edinburgh Blues Club

Rob Adams

Crowd-surfing rock stars have probably made the tradition of blues guitarists wading into their audience, fingers flying seem a little quaint to today's gig-goers. There is still a place, though, for the showmanship that Hamilton Loomis turns on as he hops on a chair in the middle of the auditorium and gives a close-up guitar chops demonstration.

Especially since, like almost every item in these two sets, it comes with a grooving, stop on a sixpence understanding and tightly choreographed presentation that is as irresistible to the bystander as it is fun - clearly - to the perpetrators.

Loomis is one of a youthful movement of musicians who are taking the blues forward. His songs have the blues at their roots but by drawing on funk and hard rock - and even allowing for his band's collective vocals bearing a passing resemblance to the Steve Miller Band in its 1970s pomp - his warnings about women with bad intentions and his bluesman's shopping list for the ideal lover have a crisp, up-to-the-minute quality.

It helps that Loomis sings like he means it and save for his second-set perambulations and chair-top Hendrix-Stones-Led Zeppelin diversions, serves up concise, superbly well-executed arrangements in which voice and guitar often conjoin in soulful, exciting communion.

His band are possibly what they call down their native Texas way bad-assed, nonchalantly exact, punchy, springy and swinging, and make a fuller sound than might reasonably be expected from sax-doubling-keys, bass guitar and drums.

The affable Loomis is the figurehead but he is a generous star, giving Fabian Hernandez space to open up on throaty tenor and introduce another, expressive dimension with alto solo building in deeply impressive, Hank Crawford soul preacher style.

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